It was a disappointing week for the Sugar Kings again as the Elmira Junior B squad lost out to rivals from Stratford and Kitchener.
Facing the challenging pair of teams this week, first with a home game on Sunday against Stratford, followed by a Tuesday evening matchup against the Kitchener Dutchmen, the Kings came up short.
The two teams have beaten Elmira at every previous meeting this season, for a combined total of five games.
Hitting the home ice, Sunday evening, the Kings struggled to find their footing in the face of Stratford’s relentless onslaught, ultimately falling 5-1.
It was a rough outing for new Sugar Kings captain Damian Figueira. Though appreciative of the role, the new captain was still stinging from Sunday’s result.
“There’s lot of responsibility and big boots to fill, like Jeff Jordan did a good job last year. So we have high expectations for this group, and we’ve got to be better than we were tonight,” he said.
Right from the get-go, the Warriors claimed an early lead over the home Elmira team, and never looked back. Less than three minutes out from the puck drop the Warriors were already putting numbers on the board, with the team’s Tyson Moore scoring at 2:41.
The game was not five-minutes old before a second puck found the back of the Sugar Kings’ net.
Now two in the hole, the Kings ceded a third goal in the frame with two minutes left on the clock, and found themselves on the wrong side of a 3-0 chasm by the first intermission.
The second period saw a nominal improvement for Elmira’s side, with a single goal coming in the final 50 seconds of the frame. There was a lot of movement on the ice and a lot of action, but ultimately little scoring as the Kings only found the back once, coming off the stick of Jakson Kirk, with Tyson Hillier and Karson Massey providing the assist.
The Kings were now down by two as the second intermission rolled around, standing at a 3-1 disadvantage at the start of the final stanza.
Any hope of carrying through on the momentum of their first goal fell flat, however, as the Sugar Kings saw another puck buried into their net. With less than seven minutes to go in the third, Stratford’s Sean Ross potted the team’s fourth point, this time with the man advantage.
With the scoreboard now standing at 4-1, and the Kings were looking for a miracle to get back into the black. The Elmira team drew their netminder in the dying minutes of the game, hoping to even the count, but ultimately saw a final goal scored against them instead, at 18:12, on the unguarded net.
The game was still not over, however, and tensions were finally starting to boil over. The Sugar Kings’ Kirk and Stratford’s Malcolm McLeod threw down in the last minute of the game, taking off the gloves and helmet for a bit of fisticuffs that saw each side get in a few decent digs. Ultimately, the blow-up blew over with the scoreboard remaining at a stubborn 5-1 slant for the remainder of the game.
The Kings had a tough time in all categories, falling early and hard against the Warriors. The power plays reflected the points on the board, with Stratford receiving five man-advantages and following through on one. The Kings, by comparison, got only three power play opportunities, and scored on none.
After a few days rest and recuperation, the Kings were back on ice, this time at the Kitchener arena. Though ultimately falling, it was comparatively a much tighter game, with home team narrowly clinching a 2-1 win in overtime.
In the first 20 minutes of play, it was Kitchener that took the lead. The Dutchmen potted their first point of the match, just five minutes in. It would be the only puck to find its mark for most of the rest of the game.
There was no scoring in the second, while the third seemed to be going the same way.
It was only in the dying moments of the game, in the final frame, with less than a minute to go, that the Kings were able to procure a miracle.
Forward Zack Cameron proved to be the man of the hour. Joined by an extra attacker on ice, Cameron saved the Kings from a shutout defeat. With Jonah Burley and Hunter Dubecki picking up assists, Cameron fired the magic shot that found its mark with just 29 seconds left on the clock.
The goal was enough to turn around a scoreless defeat into an even 1-1 match. The game was ultimately forced into overtime thanks to Cameron’s marker, where the Kings had one last chance to take home the win.
Ultimately, the game fell to Kitchener, with a final puck finding the back of Elmira’s net two minutes into the extra frame.
Coming off back-to-back losses this week, the Kings will have a challenging time ahead as they take on the Waterloo Siskins for the first time this season, a home game at the WMC Saturday at 7:30 p.m. A second home game will be held the following night against the Cambridge Redhawks at 7 p.m.